From the Wild Basin Trailhead, take the sandy Thunder Lake Trail. After a half mile, bear right on the spur trail to Upper and Lower Copeland Falls. Here, Sandbeach and North St. Vrain Creeks converge to form a small but frothy pair of falls.
More waterfall views are still ahead. Continue 1.5 miles to Calypso Cascades: a final resting place for fallen pine trees lodged between massive, rounded rocks. Hike another mile to Ouzel Falls. Taller and thinner than Calypso Cascades, the whitewater of Ouzel sprays onto algae-covered rocks. Large, flat boulders, situated just off trail, make for great rest stops.
Follow the rocky outcroppings and merge onto Bluebird Lake Trail. Unmatched views of Mount Meeker and Longs Peak are to the right; Ouzel Creek flows through the valley to the left. Bear left at the junction with Ouzel Lake Trail. A short distance along the headwaters of Ouzel Creek leads to the alpine lake. Copeland Mountain, Ouzel Peak, and Maharta Peak rim the western shore. When finished relaxing, retrace your steps.
INFO For information on permits, current trail and camp conditions, and wilderness guidelines, go to nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/backcountry.htm
PERMIT A wilderness permit is required for all overnight camping in the backcountry. Reservations accepted ($20 administrative fee for permits during peak season). nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/backcntry_guide.htm
CONTACT Rocky Mountain National Park, (970) 586-1206; nps.gov/romo
-Mapped by MacKenzie Ryan
Trailhead: I-25 N to CO 66 W to Lyons, CO. Turn left onto 5th Ave./CO 7. In 20.7 miles, turn left onto CR 84W/Wild Basin Rd. In 0.4 mile, bear right onto CR 115. Follow to parking area at end of road.